Giorgia Meloni, whose political party with neofascist roots secured the most votes in Italy's national election last month, was sworn in Saturday in Rome as the country's first far-right premier since the end of World War II. She's also the first woman to serve as premier. Meloni, 45, recited the oath of office before President Sergio Mattarella, who on Friday formally asked her to form a government, per the AP. Her Brothers of Italy party, which she co-founded in 2012, will rule in coalition with the right-wing League of Matteo Salvini and the conservative Forza Italia headed by former Premier Silvio Berlusconi, whose parties had lost popularity with voters in recent years. Meloni signed a pledge to be faithful to Italy's post-war republic, and Mattarella countersigned it.
The 24 ministers in Meloni's government also were sworn into office at Rome. Meloni made no public comments in her first hours in office. She's expected to lay out her priorities when she pitches for support in Parliament ahead of confidence votes required of new governments next week. The votes could indicate any cracks in the three-party coalition if any of Berlusconi or Salvini's lawmakers, perhaps disgruntled by not getting ministries they wanted for their parties, don't rally behind her. Meloni's government replaces one led by Mario Draghi, a former European Central Bank chief who was appointed by Mattarella in 2021 to lead a pandemic national unity coalition. Meloni refused to join that coalition, insisting voters must decide the makeup of their governments.
During her campaign for the Sept. 25 election, Meloni insisted that national interests would prevail over European Union policies should there be conflict. One immediate challenge for Meloni will be ensuring that Italy stays solidly aligned with other major nations in the West in helping Ukraine fight off the invading Russians. US President Joe Biden, in congratulating Meloni, praised Italy as a "vital NATO ally and close partner as our nations together address shared global challenges." French far-right leader Marine Le Pen, referring to Meloni and Salvini, wrote on Twitter: "Throughout Europe, patriots are coming to power and with them, this Europe of nations." Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban also hailed the birth of the new Italian government as a "big day for the European Right."
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